A Note on the Most Recent Candidate for President – Seth Moulton

This will be brief – we already, probably, have too many candidates.

This young (40) man came to my attention some 6 years ago when he first was running in the Democratic primary in the Salem, Mass 6th District against a 6 term House of Representatives incumbent. He is a school friend of my grandson-in-law who asked me to meet him. He surprised everyone I know in Mass when he won the primary.  Then he won the General election for that Congressional seat. He is clearly already a proven vote getter AGAINST heavy odds.

He is smart (but it doesn’t get in his way). He is a moderate on divisive social issues. He is a natural leader and manager and the core of his candidacy is that he knows how to make things happen and get things done.

There are already some in the field who have some of those special features. He is the only one in my opinion who has them all.

I hope you will take a moment and go to this link and take a peek at him. I think he has the look and feel of a President we would all be proud of. I will NOT solicit your support beyond this heads up. But I would love to hear your thoughts. Yes, this may be too early for him in some minds, but this surely is an important moment for him to put his hat in the ring.

Best regards,

Frank

“I’m Here”

If you use UBER and you learn from your iPhone that your car is allegedly there, BUT you cannot identify it on a crowded street and you phone the driver and ask where he/she is and the answer is “I’M HERE”, if you are like me, you go nuts.

When and if I find the car, I go into a tirade with the driver about that answer and try to explain that ‘here’ tells a passenger NOTHING!

One out of many drivers said “By gosh, you are right. Thanks, I will not say that ever again.” Dozens and dozens argue that it is my problem and IF I cannot find them, they will happily collect their $5 cancelation fee and get on with their day.

To be fair Uber mostly drops the cancelation fee when I complain.

I see this ‘little’ annoyance as a macro example of our current world’s biggest problem.

The ‘guy’ behind the Uber wheel is ‘in the driver’s seat’ and in his/her head the center of his/her world is right HERE [wherever that might be] and he/she can not understand how/why the passenger cannot see that bright light???

I have suggested to some of those drivers that they practice thinking like a passenger and they are likely to get along better with everyone, if they succeed. And, in fact, several drivers remember that when they were occasionally passengers, they had similar experiences—BUT when the get behind the wheel they immediately forget and switch gears back.

What does this illuminate and illustrate about the larger world?

That there are about 7 billion souls on earth and every one of them is first and foremost ME.

Perhaps there are 700,000 of those souls who think much about all the others.

Accordingly, WE are the problem. If we do not think or care much about other people, why/how can we think/expect they will/should care much about us.

Some degree of selfishness is essential –even good—in making the world go around. Too much and the world runs the risk of grinding to a halt.

We elected in 2016 perhaps the most selfish person ever to be President.

Perhaps that by itself is pushing us to the brink of a narcissistic national collapse?

Time to Rein in Social Media

Because it is secretly taking over America.

Traditional news media — broadcast and print — are subject to quite strict regulation by the Federal government. The primary restriction relates to OWNERSHIP of the entities, as the content they publish is, in most cases, protected by the 1st Amendment. And, in exchange for exclusive use of a “scarce and publically-owned resource” (broadcast spectrum), broadcasters have since 1934 been required to operate in “the public interest, convenience, and necessity.”

The ownership restrictions came about in the 1970s, before cable news and the Internet upended what was a staid and serious business, at a time when there was widespread concern that foreign ownership might well influence editorial processes and views in ways contrary to our national interests.

Now, the major and perhaps some minor social media enterprises are quite visibly being misused by foreign enterprises for nefarious purposes that cut to the core of our democratic system. The bad actors don’t need a license, don’t have to own anything to execute their dirty work, and are, in many cases, beyond the reach of our legal system. Extending the restrictions already applied to broadcast outlets to social media platforms wouldn’t solve the problem.

The problem now is foreign interests –often using several levels of disguises—uses the openness of social media platforms to spread propaganda and misinformation with the intention of distorting our elections and undermining our institutions.

Here’s the rub: There is literally nothing to stop them but the good will of people like Mark Zuckerberg who have already been exposed as severely lacking it. Unlike their traditional brethren, the Internet and social media are the Wild West of modern communication. For fear of stifling innovation, regulators and legislators alike let these platforms evolve without restraint. They are not even responsible for the content they publish! In this “anything goes” environment, it shouldn’t be shocking that social media – Facebook in particular – became a data-sucking cash machine trading on the personal information of its billions of individual publishers. It’s even less surprising that bad actors have figured out how to exploit the famous algorithms to shape opinions, sow chaos and terrorize people.

One might hope and think that our social media enterprises would self-police. But they simply have not and show no sincere signs of any desire or effort to so do. That quite likely has to do with their greed to maintain and grow revenues.

In this new era, the limited resource is platforms, not spectrum. If users want to reach the largest possible audience, they have little choice but to be on Facebook (and its subsidiary platform, Instagram). The idea that others could start a new social media network to compete with the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) is laughable, given the billions of dollars in investment that would be required, and the 15 year head-start of the others.  (Even GOOGLE couldn’t pull it off – they recently pulled the plug on their own, failed, social media network, Google+).

I make no assertions as to the details of a regulatory structure that might allow us to reclaim our sovereignty. It could be as simple as incentives (or disincentives) to compel increased self-policing, or a full-fledged regulatory framework appropriate to pseudo-monopolies (as is the case with cable licensees, utilities and, once, Ma Bell).

However Congress chooses to go about it, they should hurry. The problems are growing, tactics are getting more sophisticated, and another Presidential election is looming.

Who Cares?

Whether it is perfect or not?

That is, to start with, the wrong question.

The right question is how to ensure that ‘it’ IS perfect.

The experience was some 40 years ago when I was in the Commerce Department in DC.

Among my many responsibilities was dealing with the Japanese business world as well as Japanese government trade officials. We had a large trade deficit with Japan at the time and were working with them to buy more FROM America rather than simply sell more to us –particularly our own inventions.

We had a large VERY senior and prestigious group of Japanese business leaders coming to the US and Washington DC and it was decided to have a significant gala reception at a Smithsonian museum to impress and honor them.

The invitation was to come from THE Secretary of Commerce AND me as the Assistant Secretary.

The day of the reception was still a few weeks away. At a morning staff meeting one day I remembered to ask when the invitations were to go out.

The answer was ‘this week’. I then asked to see it. Why? “Among other good reasons my name is on it and it is going to tout DC.”

An hour or so later it was produced. I asked: “This is finished?” Yes. “Oh? NO it is NOT!!!”

My staff scoured it for minutes. Every word was there spelled properly. What was the problem?

I then pointed out that the whole text was a good quarter of an inch off center.

“Why does that matter??”

“Because that is sloppy and wrong, and MY name is on it and thus associated with crap! Which I will not tolerate.”

I ordered –Bring it back ASAP! They did –with the printer who was still being sobered up. It was now only off about 1/16th of an inch and less obvious. I let it go but was fired up about the problem for quite a while and kept the quarter inch off version at hand.

For the next few weeks I showed it to about 20 people seeking ideas about how to deal problems like this?

Only one person saw the problem— immediately – the others never even could see the flaw.

So, I was left with the conundrum of how to rely on and manage people who could not see or recognize even an obvious and self-evident problem.

I am still struggling with that type of problem which surrounds all of us all every day.

May be those of us who suffer from seeing those problems –that most others do not see –are the real problem.

“Who cares?”

Answers?????